MTV’s early 2000s mega-hit Jackass was either something you loved or hated. It was hard to be indifferent. If you were into it, as I was, you eventually came to know its personalities: Johnny Knoxville, the charming ringleader; Bam Margera, the punk rock jester; and Steve-O. Steve-O was the absolute wildcard. If you watch Jackass closely, you’ll see that he shows up in a lot of solo sketches — presumably because the show’s other stars didn’t want to put fish hooks through their cheeks or drink beer through their asses.
The man just always seemed to find a way to take things the the furthest possible level, and when you’re talking about the Jackass crew, that’s really saying something. Between the show, its spinoffs, and the Jackass movies, Steve-O got famous (something he’s open about longing for). But that fame wasn’t without its troubles. He developed the sort of drug problem that makes drug abuse seem the furthest thing from glamorous (all documented in 2009’s Steve-O: Demise and Rise).
After entering rehab and going vegan, Steve-O’s career was ready to change directions too. He started to perform stand-up, taking it seriously and working to develop his craft. A month ago, his first stand-up special, Guilty As Charged, hit Showtime. Last week, it launched on Vimeo. The special acts as a sort of bridge between his old persona and his new path. He smashes cans against his head, squeeze lemons into his eyes, and gets choked out by an MMA fighter all in the first five minutes. But those stunts feel like preamble — Steve-O’s chance to show people right away “I’ve changed, but not too much.” With all of this out of his system, he goes on to perform a carefully crafted storytelling-driven set. Whether you think it’s funny or not, it’s obvious that Steve-O cares about what he’s doing.
Then, at the tail end of the special, when you least expect it, he has someone taze him with 50,000 volts.
Last month, I sat down with Steve-O at Cafe Gratitude in Hollywood. The comedian also brought his dad Ted Glover. Glover is a retired business executive who is as buttoned-up as his son is laid back. The two spoke candidly with me about Steve-O’s past (from nutsack-stapling to drug abuse) and his future. The resulting conversation revealed the thoughtful man behind the half-crazed persona — someone who wants to be liked, accepted, and grow… all while never taking himself too seriously.